Down a goal just over 20 minutes into their stiffest MLS test to date, the Montreal Impact bounced right back to keep their recent hot streak alive.
Lamar Neagle and Patrice Bernier scored second-half goals and Montreal extended its winning streak to four games Saturday night with a 3-1 victory over the league-leading San Jose Earthquakes at Saputo Stadium.
Neagle scored his second goal of the season to put the Impact (11-13-3) ahead 2-1 in the 61st minute.
Bernier, who set up Neagle’s tally, got his team-leading seventh goal on a penalty kick 73 minutes in. Marco Di Vaio scored Montreal’s opener in the first half.
“We’re happy with the way we are playing,” Di Vaio said. “We’re playing with confidence, creating space and playing well together. We played a big game.”
Both teams played most of the game with 10 aside, while San Jose ended with just nine men.
Earthquakes captain Chris Wondolowski scored his league-leading 18th goal on a penalty kick 23 minutes in to give the Earthquakes a short-lived 1-0 lead.
San Jose remains first overall in Major League Soccer and atop the Western Conference with a 14-6-5 record for 47 points.
“Hats off to Montreal,” Earthquakes coach Frank Yallop said. “I’m not going to say we would have won the game. I thought we were doing O.K. with 11 on 11, but they won the game so well done to them. They took advantage — we had nine men after the penalty kick and it was a tough one.”
It was the first and only meeting between the two teams this season, and both were down a man in the 21st minute.
San Jose’s Steven Lenhart and Impact defender Hassoun Camara were both shown red cards in the first half after a flare-up inside the 18-yard box.
The Earthquakes were awarded a penalty after Camara struck Lenhart with a blow to the head, which got him ejected. Lenhart was also sent off for retaliating.
“I warned him [Friday] that Lenhart is like that,” said Impact goalkeeper Troy Perkins. “He’s going to kick you, he’s going to punch you when no one’s looking and you’ve got just got to be able to take it and tell the referee, you’ve got to look out for it.
“In all fairness the referee gives them both a red card but unfortunately it was in our own box.”
Wondolowski made no mistake, pounding a shot past Perkins into the left side of the net.
Di Vaio drove to the net and slid in to finish off Felipe Martins’ centering pass to draw the Impact even in the 25th minute.
“Felipe and Di Vaio connecting on that goal was magic, and I think that’s exactly what we needed,” said Jeb Brovsky, who played at centre back for the first time. “Five minutes after that goal I think we could have easily gotten our heads down, really packed it in and said, ‘Let’s go for this tie.’ ... I think you saw a team full of belief in the second half and I’m just proud of all the guys.”
In the second half, Bernier set up Montreal’s go-ahead goal with a pass back to Neagle, who drove a shot past San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch into the right side of the goal.
“That’s a striker’s dream, just sitting on the top of the box and the keeper’s blocked so he can’t really see it until it’s already in the air,” Neagle said.
The Earthquakes lost another player after Jason Hernandez was given San Jose’s second red card of the game 71 minutes in.
Bernier took the penalty after Di Vaio was hauled down by Hernandez. The native of Brossard, Que., hesitated as he approached the ball and calmly put a shot past Busch into the right side of the goal.
The Impact played to their second sold-out crowd in three games at Saputo Stadium, where they have won five in a row.
Impact defender Alessandro Nesta did not play because of a knee injury. Montreal’s Nelson Rivas and San Jose’s Alan Gordon each sat out because of suspensions